dinner with old friends

I wrote about Mark going to visit Ellesmere College in Shropshire, England, while we were visiting there last June.  The day Mark went to see the school and hung out with another Physics teacher, he also met two students he had met, and that he had, while he was teaching in India, at Scindia School.

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Ros, invited these students over for dinner.  They remembered Lucas and Siena (and us) but that was three years ago.  I’m thinking Lucas was probably wearing the same shirt though…. he owns like 5 of these same ones (different sizes), of the soccer team from Chile, because their Oma and Tata sent him a few.  Yes, Lucas’s request.

DSC_0370 copyYup! Here’s one.  Three years ago. In India, also with Ros and our friend Sujata.  Oh wow… I love looking at our photos from India.  The kids were so small they seem so much bigger now.  I guess Lucas will be the same age than Siena was when we arrived in India. Crazy!

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Anyways.  Mac and Ros invited our old (young) friends from Scindia and prepared an Indian dinner.  I wish I would have taken pictures of the plates… oh it was so good! DSC_0325 copy DSC_0327 copyThe kids all helped make chapatis.  DSC_0336 copy DSC_0339 copyIt makes me think we need to make some now at home.  They turned out so good! DSC_0330 copy DSC_0333 copy DSC_0334 copyAnd we all had fun making them. DSC_0340 copyYum!

DSC_0315 copyAnd of course, there was playing outside too.

DSC_0342 copy DSC_0344 copy DSC_0345 copyHere we are all together.  As if we were all in India again…. only not as hot I guess.  Thank you for another beautiful evening, and for more memories.

Ellesmere College, England


Ellesmere College is a private (that is independent, but it’s called “public” in England) high school. It is where our friend used to work, and where Mark visited for a day while we were in England.

Ros organized a visit for Mark to the school with a physics teacher.  So Mark got to hang out with him for a whole day, visiting the school, different science classes, attend physics class, have lunch at the school, and check out a school somewhere other than home.

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He had fun.  One of the great moments of that day, was in the morning, at their assembly, while he was sitting down listening, when he saw a kid he thought he had met in his classroom when he was teaching in India, three years ago.  He thought about it, and didn’t give it much thought.  Right?  What were the chances…

Until after the assembly this student came to Mark and said Hello.  Yup!  That was the same student he had in his physics class at Scindia School (in Gwalior, India) three years ago.  To say the least, they were both shocked to have met again randomly in a foreign country for both of them, half the world across from their own home.  What a treat it was.  Though Ellesmere College has students visit from Scindia periodically, it is pretty lucky for Mark that he would get to see an old student of his from his short stay as a visiting teacher in India.  It all makes the world seem so small.

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DSC_0279-smallA beautiful campus.  The buildings, oh my.  I wish I could have seen them without these scaffoldings.  But even so… beautiful!

DSC_0282-small DSC_0281-smallPracticing Cricket.  We were planning on going to see a game the following day, but it was rained out. So it’s going to have to be on our next trip.


the first train ride


Lucas wasn’t sure he wanted to ride the train here.  We had all remembered our first days in India, when we had to take the train from Delhi to Gwalior for the first time.  It had been OK, with the help from the Fullbright staff, but something we’ve talked and remembered all this time.

DSC_0053-smallWhen Lucas saw the train station we were going in to, I think he felt a little more secure and OK about our first day in this new country.  It was not like the train station we had experienced in India.

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And we headed to the city of London.  With stories creating already, and others remembered as we reminisce our days together, from three years ago, when we first met, in a country foreign to all of us.


That made us closer, that made us lean on each other when we needed each other.  Because we were far away from what was known to us and we were there for each other.  Even if we were coming from two countries separated by an ocean, it seemed to bring us closer just by being away from all we knew.

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And here we are, in a new place for us.  Mark and I have been to London before, but for Lucas and Siena, a new place.  But quite a different experience so far because of being with our friends, knowing the language, seeing some similarities, and probably because we have traveled before.

DSC_0072-smallWe find our way.

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And we are here for each other again, but we have the help from our dear friends.


A trip in the double decker bus on our first day.


We are in London indeed.

:: On Traveling to Beautiful Places ::

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Today, two years ago, we came back home after five months of an amazing adventure we took as a family.  Not everything was pretty or fun or amazing.  But sometimes it was all of these, at the same time.  But most of all, it is unforgettable.


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We talk about our days in India almost every single day.  And we have realized we are forgetting some of the details, and some of the names, and some of the little Hindi we learned. We don’t want to forget.  We want it to be present, because it has shaped our lives in a way we will never really know.  But no matter what, we are here today, with photos, memories, new friends, and many stories that we have been recalling to make sure we are still there, too.

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Every day I’m still looking for God

and I’m still finding him everywhere,

in the dust, in the flowerbeds.

Certainly in the oceans, in the islands that lay in the distance

continents of ice, countries of sand

each with its own set of creatures

and God, by whatever name.

How perfect to be aboard a ship with

maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.

But it’s late, for all of us,

and in the truth the only ship there is

is the ship we are all on

burning the world as we go.

—-Mary Oliver, from her book of poems A Thousand Mornings.

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Photo by Yuvraj
Photo by Yuvraj

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There’s always room for more

I’ve been thinking and reading about our first days in India.  I’m glad I wrote this blog and posted the pictures.  At times, I miss the excitement and all most of the feelings and sights and experiences we had.  An amazing adventure we still remember each day, in one way or another.

I found this page with photos that reminded me of what we saw in India.

A motorcyclist carries six children on their way back home from school

A motorcyclist carries six children on their way back home from school at Greater Noida in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, in September 2010. (Parivartan Sharma/Reuters)

An Indian man carries a swarm of colourful plastic balls on his bicycle

An Indian man carries a swarm of colourful plastic balls on his bicycle in the northern Indian city of Lucknow in February 2006. (Pawan Kumar/Reuters.)

Two years ago…


Two years ago today, we were arriving in a home we would spend 5 months in. In a new place, in a new country with unimaginable adventures and stories ahead of us.  I can still remember that feeling, the thoughts that crossed my mind, when the school bus stopped to drop us off in front of our new home.  Excitement and nervousness to the unknown.


We were starting our biggest adventure yet, as a family.  We were in India to work and live and learn for 5 months, in a completely new country, where none of us had ever been before.



Of course, we had read books, heard stories, watched videos, and read about India, in so many ways, throughout our lives.  But we had never had this opportunity before.  And this was perfect for us.  


We thought it was, so we went ahead and decided to accept this scholarship and Mark become an exchange teacher.


I remember, as we were applying for this exchange, we were not sure if it was the right time for us to do it.  We all talked about it, and we shared with Lucas and Siena what it would mean to take this adventure.  

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Not an easy decision, for any of us.  We were scared, we were excited, we were nervous, happy but also sad to leave what and who we knew here at home.

Photo by Siena
Photo by Siena


Five months seemed like a very long time for Lucas, 5 at the moment. Siena was also nervous, about leaving all of her friends for such a long time.  Mark and I shared the same worries, and excitement.  But we kept going back at the idea if this was the right time to take our family to India.  So different from what we knew.  Even having traveled a little with the kids, and having gone to Chile a few times with them before.  Still, this trip was different.  Very different. India was a complete unknown to all of us.


But as hard as the decision was, we talked through it.  We weighed the pros and cons of going.  Of staying.  We read more stories, watched more videos and looked things online, with the kids.  By ourselves. Together.  Individually.

Our good friends had pictures of their last trip to India, and they shared them with us.  We wanted Siena and Lucas to have an idea of what we were talking about and to help us make the decision with their whole selves, their hearts too. We were all on this together.


We were going to be there for them, but we knew, as things go when one is not in our comfortable zone, we were also going to be there in the unknown and unexpected, with them.  Living this adventure together.  We needed to have each other’s back.  We knew we’d need to be there when one of us needed each other.  We needed to go on this adventure together, on the same page.  Ready to have this adventure, with open hearts, and open minds.  And we did.



Before leaving we picked berries, just how we did this year, and every other year, for that matter.  We had gone camping.  


Mark went to his orientation in Washington, DC before leaving to India, and brought with him, the family we were doing the exchange with.  They stayed with us for few days, and we lived through them, their first days in a new country.




We tried to help them learn and get adjusted as the first days rolled.  We tried to understand and talk to Lucas and Siena, so they could see what adjusting to something new, so big in one’s life, could be like.  And we tried to help them go through the hardships of settling in to a new place.  We left them settled and ready for their own adventure.



At the same time, we were beginning ours.


We were leaving the comfort of our home, all the things we knew.  And we said goodbye to our friend who drove us to the airport that Sunday morning, two years ago.



We started this adventure together, as a family, that Sunday morning.  With an open mind, our summer clothes, some toys, my knitting, few books, malaria pills, mosquito nets, physics books, and a couple of peanut butter jars, all packed in 5 suitcases, and ready for whatever was planned for us.



Even as we saw the exchange family live their first days in a new country, we didn’t really understand until it was our turn. To India we went.  



After so much planning and thinking and getting ready, all of sudden, we were in Delhi.  Oh my.  We then understood how our new friends from India were feeling cold in our Portland summer days of 80 degree weather.  We were overly hot, at 108 degrees and 100% humidity.


And well, as we learned with the passing of days, not only the weather was different, but everything else too, of course.  Starting with the foods, the homes, the beds, the animals, the colors, the buildings and cars, the driving, the fruits, the time zone, the landscape, the language, the trains and the getting around, the people, the schedule, the talking and the accent, the birds, the snakes, the news, the radio, the walks.


We were on the other side of the world (really!) and we saw amazing things.  


We learned so much.  About India, the culture, the country, but also about ourselves.  I’ve written about that lots, especially when we were there.  And we’ve have talked about it among us, a lot too.  We continue to do.


India comes up in our lives today, still, every single day.  In many different ways, that it amazes us, and we love it as we remember our days there, two years ago.  It keeps our adventure alive still after all this time.  


Even today, after two years of having left on this adventure, we keep remembering our days in India, and we keep telling stories.  This was one of the main reasons we had decided to apply and accept this exchange, to live in a different culture.  We wanted to learn new things.  We wanted to meet new people.  We wanted to see new things and new places.  We wanted to be in a new place. We wanted to have stories.


And now as we sit and live our days in the comfort of our home, back in our routines and our lives at home, we miss India.  I miss a lot from our days there.





I hope we can go back there some day.  We have lots of friends we’d like to see again.  As I look at our pictures, I see how much Siena and Lucas have changed.  I can only imagine how much these friends have changed too.  We hope some day we get to catch up again.  Make new memories, new stories.


Through a link from a friend, I found this video about India.  If you have 3 minutes, you should watch it.  It will take you there.  A day in India.

Celebrating overseas

We have very special guests. Our friends, Mac and Ros from England that we met when we were living in India.  I know.  Strangers in a strangers land.


They are so special to us.  We met them within the first 5 minutes of stepping off the bus that picked us up at the train station, as we are standing in front of our home we were going to spend the next 5 months.  Ros was walking home from school and introduced herself.  They lived just a few houses down from us, and they had arrived, two days before we did.  They spent the same time than we did, and we became good friends, sharing the ups and downs of our days in a foreign country.


This time, we are together here, at our home. What a fun way to gather once again.  We have missed seeing them and never thought we would see them again, this soon.

While in India, we saw them every day, and really, most of the day too.  There was one time, when we went camping up in the foothills of the himalayas for 6 days, it was the most days we didn’t see each other. And even those other times that we traveled for 2-3 days, we called each other. We liked seeing them every day.  We got used to that.  It was fun.


We usually ate lunch together,  at The Mess.  We went to the swimming pool every day.  We walked to school together and walked back home, usually.  Lucas learned few things about playing cricket with Mac, and he “taught” him to play baseball.  They played catch.  They made drawings, and read stories together.  We traveled together.  We saw the Taj Mahal for the first time, together.  And many new places, together.

We were sometimes scared and disappointed together, sometimes frustrated together.  And when we were not, we shared our fears and leaned on each other and looked for support.  We enjoyed and grew a special friendship.

Now, we have great memories together and many funny stories to retell that remind us of our days together in India.


We told stories from the past and got to know each other. We shared stories of our lives before kids, in lands far away from where we were sitting back then.  We told stories from those days, from the place we met and we were standing at the moment.  We learned about each other’s families and friends.  We met each other’s friends, in this foreign and colorful land we were calling home for few months.


We promised to see each other soon.  And though we can’t really afford right now to visit them in their home in England, they came to us.  And we have looked forward to their visit and stay with us, for over a year.  We have talked many times, where we’d like to take them.  Where we should go to share and for them to see, our home.  Today, they are finally here and to say we are excited, doesn’t describe us a bit.

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Last week we celebrated Mac’s birthday, and we were so happy we could have him here and celebrate together.

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I made him a felted sweater blanket, for those cold days at home, so they can think of us and their visit to Portland, in the distance.

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And maybe it will remind them of our friendship born in India, in Gwalior, in hot, hot weather, when it never even crossed our minds to use a wool blanket like this one.


Also, while in India, we were lucky to have been able to celebrate Ros’s birthday too. I knitted her wool hand warmers, when the days were so hot the yarn wouldn’t slide through my fingers. But I knew they would return home in England, to cold days, and maybe she could even use them in her way home from the airport, when arriving.  And she did.

More than a year has passed since we’ve been back to our homes, and into our routines and daily lives.  Our friendship has grown and has changed with time. We have changed with time, and especially since been to India. When we decided to go to India we thought of many reasons to do it.  But most importantly, we kept thinking we wanted to make and have stories, and wanting to meet new people.  Make new friends.

And we certainly did. Both.  We are very lucky.

A bell across the world

The sound of this bell, the motion of swaying the bell, the cold air, the sun, the mountain view… it reminded me of a bell we heard in India last year.

Half way across the world from where we stand right now, I was taken back, up in the foothills of the Himalayas in a split second.  At the same time when the landscape, the sounds, and the sights are so very different.

:: this moment : now + then ::

A beautiful and fun Friday ritual. Inspired by SouleMama.

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo (or two or three or more)– no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. – Amanda Soule



A year ago… in India.  We say goodbye.

This is the last Friday I’m remembering our adventure from last year.




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DSC_0258-small DSC_0261-smallAnd other friends had left to go home on their winter break, before we left.   We had mixed feelings about our departure, of course.  We were excited to come home after 5 months, but we were also sad to leave all of our new friendships we grew in that time. Hoping we get to see them again some time soon.


On our last day in Gwalior, we decided we wanted to go down The Fort one last time, to see up close all those beautiful statues and record all those beautiful sights… one last time.DSC_0827-small DSC_0838-small DSC_0867-small DSC_0919-small

This week last year, we left Gwalior, India and arrived home, here in the US.  We took a 4 hour train from Gwalior to Delhi, leaving at 8:30 am.

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Arriving in Delhi we had one of the school’s student’s family pick us up at the train station and invited us to spend the whole day with them at their home.  It was so nice and special in so many ways.  We will always be thankful and happy we got to do that.

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Tired after 24 hours of travels, a beautiful flight over the Arctic with a forever sunrise we were catching up, with amazing colors of orange, yellow, reds, whites…. I will never forget that morning that took over 12 hours to turn into afternoon.

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DSCN3476-smallFlying over the north pole… (kinda’)

DSCN3481-smallAnd then, after almost 23 hours of travels, we see over our window… this is home.





Oh my.  What an adventure it was.  It was the first time for us to travel as a family to an unknown country for almost 5 months. Traveling with kids is completely different than my experience was moving here to the US with Mark as an adult.  Or the experience I had in high school as an exchange student.  Or our travel to Kenya as a couple.

This time, it was amazing, colorful, bright, hard, wet, hot, incredible, warm, friendly, scary, fantastic, take-your-breath-away… almost all at the same time.  There is not one day that passes that we don’t talk about our days in India.  I love it how it comes up in so many different ways and reasons. It was incredible, and amazing.   An adventure we will never forget.  Never.

If you’d like to leave a comment and a link to your moment, we would love to see it. Have a beautiful day.  Thank you for coming to see us!

Happy Solstice.